By Jack Todd
Spring is here, the sun is coming out, it’s time to take that trip with your buddies you’ve been thinking about all winter. Where should you go? Florida? No, that’s been done. California? The plus is it’s close, but it’s crowded and hard to take in. Hawaii? Too far, too expensive. Somewhere unexpected; somewhere you wouldn’t normally think to go — Idaho.
OK, it’s missing coastlines and beaches, but with the sun, scenery, rivers and multitude of things to do with your buds, Idaho is a destination not to be overlooked for your next “mancation.” But we understand that since you probably haven’t given Idaho much thought you might need some help coming up with activities to fill your time, so we came up with a few ideas for you.
Idaho has more area covered by rivers than any other state in the continental U.S. With trips ranging from easy to expert level and lasting anywhere from a half day down the river to a full eight-day excursion, Idaho’s whitewater rafting is a trip you and your bros should not miss. Experience just a small portion of the state’s 3,000 miles of whitewater any time between April and November and you will not be disappointed. Check out Exodus Wilderness Adventures for an epic day trip down the Salmon River, or Rocky Mountain River Tours for your multi-day adventure. riverescape.com and rafttrips.com
Idaho is known for its clear water and pristine streams, and with the many fish native to the state you can’t go wrong spending some time on the river fishing. Live off the land by camping and catching your own dinner of cutthroat trout and Chinook salmon in the Lake Coeur d’Alene camping resort or spend the day on the glorious Snake River and catch your fill. Don’t forget to get your three-day, non-resident fishing permit to cast your line with no regrets! campcda.com
Bond with the bros while enjoying the “Idaho Golf Trail,” consisting of four loops of world-class courses in the heart of the amazing Idaho scenery. visitidaho.org/golf
Idaho has more than 19,000 miles of mountain trails, desert backroads, and paved paths to fill all your outdoor cravings. Spend a few days hiking from Jump Creek to Sands Basin and see the amazing 60-foot waterfall and walk the canyon with towering, vibrant rock walls, or just spend a few hours hiking in the Boise foothills with nice valley views by running creeks.
If you’re looking to stay off your feet but still want to be active, be sure to check out one of the many mountain bike trails. Check out the Kelly Canyon/Table Rock trail outside of Ririe for intermediate riders.If you’re looking to challenge yourself, ride the Rocky Creek Loop outside of Leadore. The ride is a tough one, but the reward is worth it — a secluded trail in the breathtaking Idaho wilderness.
Why not see Idaho from the road less traveled? Idaho has many scenic byways that provide a great way to explore the state. You can enjoy the views of the enormous rift and towering cliffs separating Idaho from Oregon on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, or take in the animals on the aptly named Wildlife Scenic Byway. The options are endless.
Don’t miss a visit to one of Idaho’s many award-winning breweries. Enjoy a Bitch Creek ESB at Grand Teton Brewing Co., a Dunkelweizen at Idaho Brewing Company, a Freeheeler Rye IPA at Sawtooth Brewing or The Big Double IPA at Salmon River Brewery. The choice is yours, and there are many to choose from! grandtetonbrewing.com, idahobrewing.com, sawtoothbrewery.com and salmonriverbrewery.com
There are plenty of places to stay in Idaho that will enhance your experience in the state. We recommend either camping in the great outdoors, staying in yurts, or enjoying your time on a guest ranch.
Camping is hard to do wrong. Actually, it’s easy to do it wrong, but if you do it right then you can’t go wrong, and Idaho is no exception. Grab your tent, grab your friends, and go explore the wilderness; you won’t regret it. Try the Black Rock campground outside of Idaho City to get your fill of fishing, swimming and hiking. blackrockidaho.com
If you don’t have a tent to spare, don’t hesitate to reserve a yurt today. Yurts can be found all over Idaho — in state parks or in back country locations — and provide a great way to enjoy the state’s scenery. Yurts generally house five to six people and are available to rent all year round. Don’t miss the spectacular Elkhorn Backcountry Yurt north of Boise for access to more than 50 miles of trails and secluded wilderness. parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/activities/yurts
If you want the full Idaho experience, we suggest checking in to a guest, or “dude,” ranch during your stay. Spend time relaxing with your friends while working on the ranch. Many bookings also come with optional trips, such as hiking, canoeing and horseback riding. Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Coeur d’Alene offers 600 acres of ranchland surrounded by Panhandle National Forest and offers hiking, rock climbing, and zip lining, as well as a number of other activities to satisfy all your outdoor cravings! redhorsemountain.com
For the Ladies
No one said girls can’t enjoy the rougher side of Idaho. But if you just want to relax while the boys play in the mud, here are a few spas we recommend.
The Cove, Shore Lodge
The Shore Lodge is a four-season mountain resort that sits on the southern shore of Payette Lake in McCall. Its spa, The Cove, offers an array of massages, facials, body wraps, daily excursions and natural nail services. But what makes The Cove especially luxurious is its indoor and outdoor saltwater immersion pools, where stress melts away. Also, your dogs are welcome at Shore Lodge! shorelodge.com
MSNBC dubbed The Spa at the Coeur d’Alene Resort the “World’s Most Romantic Spa” for good reason. The resort, which is perched on Lake Coeur d’Alene in North Idaho, uses nature’s finest elements to create the ultimate spa experience. Among a long list of treatments and packages is the “Lavender Mountain Spirit” service, which includes a lavender-scented body exfoliation, soothing mineral soak and rehydrating massage with lavender-infused lotion. cdaresort.com
Stillwater Spa, Teton Spring Lodge
There’s nothing like getting a hot stone massage next to a crackling fire place in the center of the Teton Valley. Teton Springs’ Stillwater Spa and Salon is a 5,000-square-foot facility that offers everything from hot herbal body wraps to a rosemary, sage and eucalyptus alpine massage. tetonspringslodge.com
New Spa in Coeur d’Alene
The Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel recently opened the new Spa Ssakwa’q’n. Try the specialty massages, such as Sacred Forest treatment, where warm
oils that help reduce inflammation help relax sore muscles. Stress? What stress? cdacasino.com
Top and middle photos courtesy Idaho Tourism; Bottom photo courtesy Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel